Tooth Anatomy, Decay and Care

Dental anatomy is a field of anatomy dedicated to the study of tooth structure. The development, appearance, and classification of teeth fall within its field of study, though dental occlusion, or contact between teeth, does not. Dental anatomy is also a taxonomic science as it is concerned with the naming of teeth and their structures. This information serves a practical purpose for dentists, enabling them to easily identify teeth and structures during treatment.

The anatomic crown of a tooth is the area covered in enamel above the cementoenamel junction (CEJ) or "neck" of the tooth. Most of the crown is composed of dentin ("dentine" in British English) with the pulp chamber inside. The crown is within bone before eruption. After eruption, it is almost always visible. The anatomic root is found below the CEJ and is covered with cementum. As with the crown, dentin composes most of the root, which normally has pulp canals. Canines and most premolars, except for maxillary first premolars, usually have one root. Maxillary first premolars and mandibular molars usually have two roots. Maxillary molars usually have three roots. Additional roots are referred to as supernumerary roots.

Plaque is a biofilm consisting of large quantities of various bacteria that form on teeth. If not removed regularly, plaque buildup can lead to periodontal problems such as gingivitis. Given time, plaque can mineralize along the gingiva, forming tartar. The microorganisms that form the biofilm are almost entirely bacteria (mainly streptococcus and anaerobes), with the composition varying by location in the mouth. Streptococcus mutans is the most important bacterium associated with dental caries.


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